VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Wood cut
RKM 11-1972
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Utamaro’s “Annual Events” provides an insight into Yoshiwara during the Edo period, and is a cultural and historical chronicle at the highest artistic level. The pictures show the inhabitants and guests where ceremonial gatherings, processions, annual red-letter days, dances, pantomimes and music were all part of life, as are daily chores, cleaning and cooking. The Röhsska Museum has eleven double leaves from this series. It is a veritable treasure among the museum’s collections. Kerstin Lekholm, Conservator, Röhsska Museum

History of the Object
One of the most famous portrayers of women within the art of woodcuts, Kitagawa Utamaro (1753–1806), was also a renowned trendsetter in the West. He was active from the 1770s until his death in 1806 at the age of 53. In a great number of portraits Utamaro depicts life in the red-light district of the Yoshiwara neighbourhood in Edo. He was himself no stranger to this part of town and was thus able to provide a well-informed picture of the nightlife in the districts where tea houses and brothels were to be found. In his final work, an illustrated book published in 1804, describes life in Yoshiwara. Its title was “Yoshiwara Picture Book of Annual Events in the Green Houses” and was published in two parts; ten double leaves in the first part, and nine in the second. The leaves are not signed by the artist but his name appears on the title page of the book. The original edition was black and white, but owing to the book’s popularity many editions were published in colour.

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Type
Print 
Materials
Print on paper, eleven double leaves 
Measurements
Width 26 cm. Height 18 cm.  
Creator name
Kitagawa Utamaro 
Creator date
1753-1806 
Where it was made
Japan 
Geography
Japan 
Time period
AD 19th century ~ AD 19th century 
Creation date
19th Century; 1804 
Function
Art 
Acquisition
Purchased at Hanström’s Antique shop, Gothenburg 1972. 
Copyright
The Röhsska Museum 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
The Röhsska Museum 
Museum
The Röhsska Museum, of Design, Fashion and Decorative Arts 
Credit line
 

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